'Pixie' Is a Fun but Average Crime-Comedy Caper Directed by Barnaby Thompson
Starring Olivia Cooke, Alec Baldwin, Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack, Colm Meaney
Published Mar 05, 2021Once upon a time in the west of Ireland, two men dawning pig and panda masks burst into a church to rob shotgun-wielding priests of their drugs. But these priests weren't simply defending themselves — they were deadly gangster priests and there were a whole group of them.
That's how Wayne's World producer Barnaby Thompson opens his third feature film, Pixie. With his son Preston penning the script, this crime-comedy caper has a Western flavour in both style and score. It boasts an entertaining ensemble cast but never reaches the heights of other films of its ilk.
The priest robbers are Colin (Rory Fleck Byrne) and Fergus (Fra Fee), one the current and the other the former boyfriend of the titular Pixie (Olivia Cooke). She's essentially a femme fatale, whether or not she tries to be. She's a girl with a reputation for not just breaking men's hearts but taking "a Kalashnikov" to them. Boys are crazy about her and get killed for her, and the bodies are quickly piling up.
When two young misfits Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack) get their hands on the stolen drugs, Pixie is the only one who can save their skins. They join forces to try to sell the drugs before Father Hector McGrath (Alec Baldwin), the leader of the gangster priests and nuns, catches up to them. There's also the added complication of Pixie's step-father (Colm Meaney) also being a gangster who once ran guns for the IRA; he's a partner-turned-enemy of McGrath. This could benefit their plan, but it also risks ruining it because Pixie's devilish and conniving step-brother (Turlough Convery) hates her guts and wants to see her dead.
It's a film full of nefarious and intriguing characters with some complicated dynamics at play, and it's these characters — with their Irish eccentricities and the film's humour — that makes it enjoyable enough. Cooke as the lead is so charismatic. She has an infectious energy, a killer wardrobe by Hazel Webb Crozier, and a tell-it-like-it-is delivery that adds to the film's comedy. She has a great dynamic with Hardy and McCormack; they feel like carefree school kids, even while they're in hot water.
This bloody mess of a road leads, with a Richard Wagner "Ride of the Valkyries" intro, to an Old West-style gunfight in a church. In its best moments like this, it has the spirit of a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost vehicle, but unfortunately never reaches that level of uniqueness. And for a film that's promoted as a thriller, it's not as thrilling as it could be. It's slow in parts without much action, but also chaotic in others. It's off-balance, but the short runtime prevents boredom.
If this were a normal year, Pixie would be simply referred to as a fun time at the movies.
Pixies is playing in select theatres and in VOD. (Saban Films)